History, Culture, Aesthetics Classes


History, Culture, Aesthetics Classes

Jazzschool-Online Technical Notes
All Jazzschool-Online classes meet online via Zoom. Technical requirements include: computer, tablet or phone with a reliable internet connection. Computer (laptop or desktop) is preferred, but a tablet or phone is also possible, with somewhat limited functionality. Optional for improved sound quality: external microphone, either connected via USB or XLR cable to audio interface. For a budget USB mic option, we recommend the Samson Go, currently retailing for around $50 new. Additional technical requirements are listed for specific classes below.


Lisa Mezzacappa

Listening Lab: New Directions in Jazz, 1960 – Present NEW!
Open your ears to the creativity, concept and imagination that innovative artists have been infusing into the jazz tradition since the 1960s. Bay Area bassist, composer and bandleader Lisa Mezzacappa guides attendees through the music that is closest to her heart: the transcendent, visceral, joyful recordings of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, Derek Bailey, Henry Threadgill, Horace Tapscott, Sun Ra, John Zorn, Nicole Mitchell, William Parker, Matana Roberts and others. The course will connect this music to its cultural context rooted in Black American creative and intellectual expression, and help demystify the novel sounds and forms these influential artists explore in their work. Participants will listen for ways improvisers create structure and form in the moment, and learn to appreciate the sensual qualities of sound, timbre and tone. Good headphones and a comfortable couch recommended!

Mondays, 6:00 – 7:30 pm
9/21 – 11/30 (10 weeks) no class 11/23
Lisa Mezzacappa, $250

Harlem of the West: San Francisco and Jazz in the Golden Age NEW!
From the 1930s through the 1950s, the Fillmore district, known as the “Harlem of the West,” showcased the highest levels of African-American creative and entrepreneurial culture in step with and on the heels of the great Harlem Renaissance in New York. For jazz royalty including Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Chet Baker as well as Bay area home-grown jazz pioneers like John Handy, Sweetie Mitchell, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Addison and Art Farmer, San Francisco’s Fillmore district was a home away from home for musicians, artists, photographers, and business owners who would continue to evolve African-American music, art, and culture. Through an interactive, lecture-style curriculum filled with video, audio and photos, and Q&A, this course tells the story of the people, places, and the history which made the Fillmore a cultural Mecca in the first half of the 20th century.

Wednesdays, 6:00 – 7:30 pm
9/23 – 12/2 (10 weeks) no class 11/25
Terrence Brewer, $250

New Orleans: Birthplace of Jazz NEW!
This course traces the musical influence of the international port of New Orleans, the melting pot for creative music innovation and cultural exchange that gave birth to jazz, one of America’s greatest contributions to world culture. Explore the African-American experience of cultural resilience through dance, singing and drumming traditions that fuse elements from various cultures with gospel, blues and the “Latin tinge.” The course includes analysis of important recordings as well as in-class performance of traditional and modern New Orleans-style funeral marches, street parades, brass bands and other music employing improvisation, syncopation, call and response and friendly competition that continue to influence music throughout the world. Open to all musicians and aficionados.

Tuesdays, 6:00 – 7:30 pm
9/22 – 12/1 (10 weeks) no class 11/24
Jaz Sawyer, $250

Marcus Shelby

Black Music and Freedom NEW!
A 9-part class exploring the role of Black Music during freedom movements in the United States. From Harriet Tubman to Black Lives Matter, each class will include discussion and inquiry, recordings, video clips, photos and charts, and live performance.

Thursdays 6:00 – 7:30 pm
9/24 – 12/3 (9 weeks) no class 10/1 and 11/26
Marcus Shelby, $250

Wayne Wallace

Icons of R&B, Soul, Funk Music NEW!
The purpose of this course is to trace the development of musical traditions from early Rhythm & Blues through Soul music into the Funk era of the 1970s. We will discuss the history of these styles from their beginnings and to their evolution to the present time. Styles covered in the course will range from the 1930s through the 1970s. The class will cover artists such as “Sister” Rosetta Tharpe, Ray Charles, Curtis Mayfield up through George Clinton. Open to all. Course text (optional): Funk by Dave Thompson from your preferred online retailer.

Wednesdays 7:00 – 8:30 pm
9/23 – 12/2 (10 weeks) no class 11/25
Wayne Wallace, $250

Aesthetics and Music:
Exploring the “How, Why, Beauty and Art” of Music NEW!
For lovers and thinkers of music, not just jazz! Are you curious about the relationship between society and music throughout modern history? What constitutes music, exactly? How do we judge music, aesthetically, and how has that changed over time? What are we to make of dissonance in music in the modern age, and in the postmodern world? And what about jazz improvisation, and the aesthetics of perfection and imperfection? This college-like course is an adaptation of Dave’s accredited “Philosophy of Jazz” course taught at the California Jazz Conservatory from 2014-2018. The centerpiece of the course will be the examination of the book Aesthetics and Music by British philosopher and jazz musician Andy Hamilton. This is a dense philosophical book, acting in parts as a survey of music philosophy throughout modern history. Titles of chapters are: 1) Aesthetics and Music in Ancient Greece; 2) The Concept of Music; 3) The Aesthetics of Form and Expression in Music; 4) The Sound of Music; 5) Rhythm and Time; 6) Adorno and Modernism; 7) Improvisation and Composition. During class time, Dave will lead, review, and moderate the interpretation of chapters, and encourage a class dialogue. Homework will consist of reading chapters from the book. In his 215-page course text, philosopher/author/musician Andy Hamilton writes with the precision and skill of a surgeon using a knife; if you enjoy rich and deep reflection on the understanding of music, you will enjoy this course! Required Text: Aesthetics and Music, by Andy Hamilton, available for rent or purchase at amazon.com.

Mondays, 7:45 – 9:15 pm
9/21 – 11/30 (10 weeks) no class 11/23
Dave Len Scott, $250